Marketing Ploys I Don’t Understand

Most marketing schemes work the same way–they show you something that bothers you and offer to fix it–quickly and easily, of course. (Think: Ambien). Or they make you aware of something you need and offer it to you at a great price. (Think: Sham-Wow).

So why, when even us chickens know that’s how it works, do some marketers stumble so hard when it comes to “building a relationship” with me?

In the last few days, marketers have approached me in ways that not only don’t work, they make me roll my eyes. I spike the emails while rolling my eyes. Here are some examples:

1. The email that starts “Dear Mr. QuinnCreative.” If you don’t know me, don’t pretend to know me. Admit you don’t know me and pretend you want to get to know me. This worked well for boys in seventh grade, so use it.

2. Don’t call yourself a guru, genius or an expert. Particularly if your pitch uses apostrophes to make nouns plural. (“I make website’s such as yours shoot to the top of Google.)

3. If you have never been to my website, don’t pretend you know my website. Here’s an exact quote from a “SEO guru” I got this morning.

“I had stopped by and have took a look at your ranking for some of your terms and just wondered if you’d be at all interested in having your site improved in terms of where it’s ranked on the major engines with the terms you’d like as well as some I’d like to suggest.  I can get your site a much better ranking and have done so for about 450 people to date. Many of which now have a first page listing for ther keywords they wanted.  Yes, I’m a real person, Yes, I actually just came back from viewing your site. You can call me at home to prove it to yourself.” [I added the bold to highlight the most delightful mistakes.]

I don’t want to call someone who writes like that at the office, much less at home.

3. If you have been to my website and think I sell a variety of products, you haven’t been to my website. I already know you are lying to me, and I lost interest at that point.


4. If you use a lot of rhetorical questions that are also condescending, your stay will be short-lived. My favorite this week: “If you are satisfied with the low income you are making now, don’t read further.” OK, I won’t.

5. Don’t expect me to love you if you use business-jargon:

“C-Suite,” (Sounds like a bad piece of music instead of the biggest location carrot ever.)

“Grow or die” (Why? It’s fine to stay small and nimble instead of bloated.)

“Failure is not an option.” Of course failure is an option. Sometimes it’s even a great option. Lots of good things can happen after failure. Problem solving and people getting smarter happen after failure. It’s terribly underrated.

Even worse is corporate jargon that is impossible to understand. You say “accelerated emergence of high maturity behaviors,” I say, “faster results.” If you have trouble swilling the opaque Kool-Aid, this site (Unsuck It) will help you.

I’ve been a marketing writer, and I’ve had to appease the client by putting their words back. But for heaven’s sake, if you are trying to build a relationship with the client, know who the client is.

-Quinn McDonald likes good marketing writing. She just seldom sees it.